Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Dalano Banton is widely considered one of the most intriguing prospects participating at the G League Elite Camp.
Banton, 21, is a versatile ball handler who averaged 9.6 points to go with 5.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season. Among all players 6-foot-9 or taller who played at least 55 percent of minutes for their team last season, per Bart Torvik, no player recorded a higher assist percentage (27.5 percent) than he did this past season.
The redshirt sophomore is currently testing the waters and considering whether or not to remain in the 2021 NBA draft. He recently caught up with HoopsHype about his game.
Please note this interview was minorly edited in its transcript for clarity.
How were you able to develop your court vision and your feel for the game?
— Robel (@robeltussin) December 13, 2020
Dalano Banton: If somebody were to ask me what I feel I do best on the court, I would say it’s my feel for the game. I can make plays and make the right decisions and the right cuts. Growing up, I was always that guy. If I can get a dunk and you can get a dunk, I’ll pass it to you. I wanted to get everybody to shine and feel good. There was a play against Creighton where I probably could have scored a layup but I saw my teammate was wide open. That game wasn’t going our way. So I wanted to get somebody else involved, causing good momentum. My feel for the game is what allows me to have so much fun. I want to see my teammates eat. That makes me look good as well.
You grew a bit during your time in college. How did that help you get better?
DB: I grew maybe an inch and a half since my freshman year. It definitely has its advantages. Even at the height of 6-foot-6, I was a taller guard. I was able to see over the defenses and I was able to create for myself. But now I can get into the post more and be more versatile on the offensive end. It also helps to grab rebounds. I’m definitely grateful for it because I’ve always played point guard. This happened before where one summer I grew five or six inches in like six months.
My coach kept me at point guard instead of putting me on the wing because I always had the vision and the feel. He didn’t let my height change my position. Now, that allows me to play positionless basketball. With my height and versatility, I can play anywhere on the court.
How are you able to use your length and mobility to your advantage?
Dalano Banton w/ 17pts-5reb-3ast-2stl vs Michigan. His ability to utilize his size, length, feel & overall skill level in a tall playmaker role should translate. The success of Kyle Anderson gives me hope. Similar skillsets that need to comp for athleticism/explosion concerns pic.twitter.com/ySQ8WoDmP8
— Jam Hines (@jamontheboards) December 26, 2020
DB: I can guard a four or switch to the one or I can guard a one and switch to the four. That gives me a big advantage. I use my size to crowd guys and get into passing lanes and block shots. I can get my hands on balls that I wouldn’t be able to get if I wasn’t blessed with all the length that I do have. My wingspan is just under 7-foot. I need fewer strides to keep guys in front of me.
Then on offense, it is unorthodox for my defender. I can take two steps and it might be slower but because they are so long, it’s like it’s the same speed when I’m attacking the rim. I need fewer steps, fewer dribbles to get there. It allows me to be more effective.
What have you worked on the most since the offseason began?
DB: I’m just working out, trying to get my body right, trying to get my shot right. I’m spending every day just working, trying to get better, loving the process. I’m looking to show a change with my body. I want to add more mass and more strength to my upper body and my core. I want to add lateral quickness so I can guard shorter, faster guys. I know my upper body strength needs to change drastically.
I’m doing a bunch of dribbling drills, working on making different reads out of the pick and roll to get better at how to make passes. Those little things will help us win games, just putting myself in different situations. It’s a lot of live game workouts. I’m working on my jump shot every day as well. Those are the biggest things that will help separate me. You can never fail to improve everywhere.
How do you think you will be able to get your jump shot to the next level?
DB: I’m working with coach Fred Hoiberg and he is a great shooting coach. We’re putting in work. He told me that the main thing is bringing the ball straight up the line and not bringing it from left to right. That is what I’m working on. It’s a ton of work and I feel like it looks good and it is getting better every day. I’m just going to keep grinding on it, keep working, shoot every shot like it’s in-game speed. That’s what is going to get me ready.
What are the main ways that working with Fred Hoiberg has helped you?
3 excellent PnR passes from 6'9" Dalano Banton: skip pass to the weakside corner, feed to the roller after snaking, and hits the lift. pic.twitter.com/q1GRxOQSFC
— Will Morris (@w_a_morris) December 29, 2020
DB: Everything he says, I soak it up like a sponge. I know where he is coming from. He has played and so it’s easy for me to understand him because he’s been in my shoes as well. He gives me advice on everything. I can call him as a friend, as a coach, as a brother. On the court, he puts me in places he feels I can do well. He was an NBA coach so he knows what it is like and how it is and so he puts me in positions where I can shine and show that I’m an NBA player. I’m not taking his experience for granted.
What would it mean for you to represent Canada in the NBA?
DB: That would be a dream come true, man. Growing up, Andrew Wiggins was the one that helped me realize that it was possible. I used to see him playing at gyms near my house. I also grew up playing basketball with some of the other guys in the draft from Canada. We knew the odds of us making it out were tough. I want to be a part of that. It would be crazy. I’m going to continue to put on from where I’m from. Over the years, Canadian basketball keeps showing what we can do. People will have to take that seriously at some point. We keep coming out with more and more guys.
What do you want an NBA team to know about you as a person?
Watch Nebraska for the unusual Dalano Banton, 6-9 point-forward averaging 13.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2 steals, 1.8 blocks through 4 games pic.twitter.com/jPGV6E1ktT
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) December 2, 2020
DB: They’re going to get someone who will come in and work every day. I will leave it all on the line. I’m going to try to win and do whatever I can to win. I’m going to have a feel for the game. I am going to be there for my teammates. I’m a family-oriented guy who is going to put a lot of hard work into my craft. I definitely see myself as one of the guys who is going to make it in the NBA. I’ve been known for chasing my dreams. As long as I put in the work and keep grinding, the sky is the limit.